Dacia Bigster three-row SUV could be the ultimate bargain [Update]

  • The Bigster will be a compact SUV like the VW Tiguan and Toyota RAV4, but with prices from a lower segment
  • 1.8-liter hybrid and plug-in hybrid systems expected in a phased roll-out
  • Likely to arrive in showrooms in early 2025; should wear the Renault lozenge outside Europe

Update: ‘Optional modular roof storage system’ section added to ‘Features.’

As part of the Renaulution strategy, group company Dacia unveiled a 5-year business plan in January 2021 which included the announcement of the Dacia Bigster concept – a C-segment SUV which will see the budget-conscious brand sell its most expensive product to date.

Video from Dacia Fans Youtube channel

The next 4 years for the French group will see it focus on the Dacia business unit, with the brand announcing that the Alliance’s (Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi) CMF-B platform will be fully leveraged for upcoming products. The CMF-B platform will also give these products the versatility of featuring alternative and hybrid engines, Dacia confirmed, while acknowledging future regulations will be met via this route.

Exterior

The Dacia Bigster Concept is described by the company as being a ‘roomy, robust’ SUV meant for ‘open-air and dusty roads.’ Dacia confirms that the SUV measures 4.6 meters in length, which puts it in the ballpark of the world’s best-selling C-segment SUVs. However, given the brand’s heritage of adhering to a strict cost sheet, the production Dacia Bigster will be ‘accessible, at the cost of a vehicle from the segment below,’ the company had said in January 2021.

Dacia Bigster SUV concept front quarter
The Dacia Bigster will have some serious differentiation compared to the Duster, with the priority on comfort and touring. Image source: Renault.

Around 90 percent of the concept likely to be preserved

Autofacil.es‘ report from May 2021 is another indication that the production Dacia Bigster (codename: Dacia R1310) won’t look very different from the concept version. Expect only tweaks to the bumper, fenders, rocker panels, quarter glass panels, hood, and mirrors.

In March 2022, Mihai Bordeanu, Director (South-Eastern Europe) and Head (Romania), Dacia, strengthened the speculation about the production Bigster drawn from its leaked patent pictures. The production Bigster will be “very, very close” to the Bigster concept, and while that’s often not the case, “this time it is a commitment,” Bordeanu said. The company official revealed that the production version won’t feature the concept’s illuminated grille.

Dacia has adopted some design features from the Bigster concept car in current production models. The grille inserts on all its models are now white, and between them is a new, minimalist logo made up of interlocking ‘D’ and ‘C’ letters. The center of each hub cap also features the new brand emblem. The Bigster features the brand in block letters on the rear and steering wheel, a visual change that the company has incorporated in its current models.

Future Dacia models should look more stylish and less utilitarian. David Durand, Dacia’s new Vice President of Design, should lift Dacia to a new level of automotive design, starting with the production Bigster and the third-gen Duster (codename: P1310) SUVs. Durand contributed to the Bigster concept as well, in 2020, the year Dacia had appointed him the brand’s exterior design director.

2025 Dacia Bigster Hybrid rendering
The 2025 Dacia Bigster will be based on the CMF-B platform and will be propelled by Renault’s E-Tech hybrid powertrain. A Bigster plug-in hybrid is also under consideration. Image: TopElectricSUV render

Differentiation from the Duster

Denis Le Vot, EVP and CEO, Dacia, has indicated that there will be significant differentiation between the Bigster and the next-gen Duster, as per a report from AutoExpert. The Duster will be a rough and tough SUV optionally available in a 4×4 version, Le Vot said. The Bigster will be an SUV meant for long journeys, a model that focuses on comfort and touring, not off-roading.

Interior

Spacious

Dacia promises a ‘very spacious’ interior with generous outside dimensions and focuses on the design’s ‘genuineness.’ There are no chrome or imitation aluminum trims, but the company has used raw recycled plastics for all exterior protective panels. We expect the main attraction from the interior to be an additional row of rear seats. Dacia may offer the Bigster in five- and seven-seat versions, although some markets may get the latter as standard.

Uncomplicated

Dacia hasn’t shown the interior of the Bigster, but AutoCritica.ro has published a picture that gives us a peek inside the cabin. Unsurprisingly, the concept has the most upmarket interior we’ve seen in a Dacia. The design team has kept things simple while lifting core elements to the latest design standards.

The dashboard is upright and looks robust, just as one expects from a no-frills SUV. The Y-shaped grilles of the central AC vents, the four-spoke steering, and angular lines on the center console, the dashboard, and the central display bode well with the aggressive exterior. In contrast, some elements help the interior look more polished and elegant. For example, the smaller and sleeker center pad of the steering wheel, the fully digital instrument cluster, and the large tablet-like slim touchscreen that serves as the central display.

Features

No unnecessary kit

Affordable pricing is in the DNA of Dacia, and though the Bigster will be its flagship, the company would ensure that it doesn’t over-equip the vehicle and stray from its ethos. Le Vot says that the company is able to provide exceptional value by seeing to it that Dacias offer everything but aren’t “superfluous,” as per a report from Autocar. For example, air conditioning is essential, but electric seats with multiple adjustments could seem unnecessary to most Dacia customers, he explained.

Dacia has data backing up its decision to not blindly add new features just because they have become a trend in the auto industry. The company surveyed 2,000 UK drivers in September 2021 and found that 76% of them think too much technology in a vehicle is a distraction. 78% of the respondents do not want unnecessary technology in their cars. 61% would rather pay less and buy a car with only the technology they actually use.

According to Dacia’s study, on average, drivers use approximately 40% of their cars’ tech features. Most drivers rarely use advanced equipment such as in-car WiFi and automatic parking. They do want basic features like parking sensors, satellite navigation, and DAB radio at any cost, though.

Sustainability

Dacia isn’t moving to zero-emission powertrains for its SUVs anytime soon, but it is taking other measures to save the environment. For example, the company has avoided using chrome on the Dacia Bigster concept and is considering avoiding it on showroom-bound models, one of which could be the production Bigster.

Optional modular roof storage system

Dacia’s design head, David Durand, told Autocar at the Paris Motor Show 2022, that the company was developing accessories and even a modular roof storage system for the next-gen Duster. That said, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to spot the same features in the Bigster, at least eventually if not right at launch.

Dacia could also choose to roll out an off-road style variant of the Bigster in due course. If this were to come to fruition, a handy roof storage system could be of great use for those going on long camping trips or even overnight excursions. The large size of the SUV means that there would be a decent amount of space for owners to carry bikes or hiking/trekking gear. As of now, these are just speculations.

Specifications

Dimensions

Worldscoop forum member De_passage may have inside information of the next-gen Duster and the Bigster. De_passage says that the Bigster will be 213 mm longer than the all-new Duster. 45 mm of that extended length will come from a longer wheelbase. The front overhang of the SUVs will measure the same, but the Bigster will have a noticeably longer rear overhang. Much of the third-row space should come from the rear overhang, suggests the forum post.

Hybrid Powertrain

Renault Group has suggested that thanks to the CMF-B platform, it is possible to offer the Bigster and other future Dacia models, like the next-gen Duster, for instance, with its E-Tech Hybrid powertrain technology.

Dacia (and) Lada are moving on the CMF-B platform for the next-gen Duster or the Bigster that we also announced. That is also to say that when Dacia or Lada will need technology, for example, for the E-Tech, the hybrid, we will be able to transfer the technology very easily to those ones.

Gilles Le Borgne, EVP – Engineering, Renault Group (Renault eWays ElectroPop)

Renault Group is working on a bigger version of the HR16 1.6-liter E-Tech engine, and it will offer the new electrified engine in the Dacia Bigster, as per a report from L’argus. Internally called ‘HR18,’ it will have a displacement of 1,800 cc. Unlike the HR16, the HR18 will run on the Atkinson cycle for low fuel consumption. The company didn’t use this combustion cycle in the smaller engine because it would have significantly reduced power, but that won’t be a problem with a higher displacement.

The 1.8-liter E-Tech engine will be available in self-charging hybrid and rechargeable/plug-in hybrid variants. The next-gen Dacia Duster will get it first, in fall 2024, and then the Dacia Bigster in 2025, L’Argus adds. The speculation is now strengthened, as in an interview with AutoExpert in October 2021, Le Vot revealed that Dacia is considering a Bigster plug-in hybrid. Expect the traction battery pack of the plug-in hybrid system to offer an EV range of around 30 miles in the real world.

Given the Euro 7 norms (full compliance for Euro 7 is likely to come into effect around 2025), it is reasonable to expect even entry variants of the Dacia Bigster to feature MHEV (Mild Hybrid with a 48V system). According to Worldscoop forum member De_passage, Dacia could also offer the Bigster with a diesel engine.

Not a 5-star Euro NCAP model in the making

Dacia Jogger product manager Andreea Guinea had told Autocar that while Dacia is all for increasing passenger safety, it’s not chasing Euro NCAP stars. Securing a 5-star Euro NCAP rating means including advanced electronics, sensors, and cameras in the car, which can jack up the prices to where the brand loses what it stands for – affordability. The third-gen Sandero recorded a poor 2-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash test, and while the pricier Dacia Bigster could be safer, don’t expect a 5-star rating.

Despite Dacia’s hesitation, it may offer some ADAS features in the Bigster. Due to the EU’s new safety regulations that came into effect on July 6, 2022, and will apply to all new vehicles from July 7, 2024, it will need to equip the SUV with many sensors it would have otherwise avoided.

Emergency lane-keeping assistance, intelligent speed assistance, and driver attention monitoring will become mandatory in the new safety regulations. Dacia will offer Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) in its next-gen models, Autocar said in a report citing Le Vot on October 18, 2022. The Bigster will likely be the brand’s first model featuring ACC.

Dacia Bigster Price & Competitors

The Dacia Bigster should launch at an unbeatable price. The trump card for Dacia is the bargain starting price, case in point, the EUR 9,000 for the Sandero or EUR 12,500 for the Duster, will be utilized again to bring customers into showrooms, who invariably lock in the upper trims with better finish and more equipment.

Dacia Bigster SUV concept rear quarter
The Bigster could be the roomiest car built by Dacia and a good successor to the Lodgy, supported by the Jogger. However, plans for a seven-seat configuration have not been spelled out by the company. Image: Renault

Le Vot says that the Dacia Bigster won’t have excess tech “nobody really uses,” so the price will be “much, much less” compared to competitors. He expects the average family SUV price to be EUR 40,000 by the time Dacia launches the Bigster.

In an interview with Automotive News Europe in April 2022, Le Vot said that C-segment crossovers cost approximately EUR 33,000 on average. When Euro 7 norms come into effect, they will be pricier. Plus, adding hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology makes them heavier and costlier. That is where Dacia will try to differentiate from rivals, keeping the recipe light, basic, and affordable, Le Vot said. However, Dacia customers are increasingly going for higher trims, and so, the company could try to make the top-end trim more attractive as compared to the current levels.

At the top of the range, decked out with a hybrid engine with at least 140 hp output, the Bigster could reach EUR 30,000. This would make it mouth-watering considering the Peugeot 5008, VW Tiguan Allspace, and the Nissan X-Trail cost that much for the basic trims. To a few, the Bigster could be a no-frills, budget alternative to the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Le Vot told Automotive News Europe that Renault Group will have likely sold half a million units of the E-Tech full-hybrid system by 2023, so its cost would reduce considerably by then. E-Tech will be the cheapest full-hybrid system in the market by then.

The Bigster would help Dacia significantly boost sales in the UK, where it reached the 200,000 sales milestone with the delivery of a Sandero Stepway in Milton Keynes in July 2021. The base Dacia Bigster could cost around GBP 20,000 (approx. EUR 23,000) in Britain, as per a report from Auto Express.

Production

Dacia has not announced where it plans to manufacture the Bigster. The Mioveni factory in Romania that makes the Duster might not have the additional production capacity needed for producing the Bigster. The company could make it in Morocco if capacity expansion is not given consideration in Romania.

Bigster confirmed for Australia

Australia will get the Bigster, probably with the Renault badge. Glen Sealey has said that other right-hand drive markets outside Europe get Dacia products as Renault models and Ateco “would follow the same path,” as per a Wheels report dated October 28, 2022. Ateco is Renault’s Australian importer, and Sealey is the general manager at the company.

Dacia Bigster Electric version about 10 years away

The Bigster will go all-electric after the Sandero and Duster, “sometime in 2032-2033,” Le Vot said during a discussion with four Romanian journalists, as per a report AutoExpert published on October 16, 2022. The timeline indicated that the Bigster will get a pure-electric powertrain in its second generation. The second-gen Bigster will likely be available with an internal combustion engine option, as many markets outside Europe may continue to allow the sale of combustion engine vehicles.

Dacia sales in 2022

Dacia ended 2021 with a 3% year-over-growth and an annual sales figure of 537,095 units, in which the Duster accounted for 186,001 units. Cumulative sales of the Duster since its launch in 2010 have surpassed two million units. Between January and September 2022, Dacia sold 115,033 units of the Duster, just 1,692 units lower than in the same period in 2021 (January-September 2021: 116,725 units). That’s impressive, given that the auto industry is struggling with component shortages.

Showcased at the 2022 Lyon Motor Show

Video Source: Youtube/crospotter13

Dacia showcased the Bigster SUV concept at the Salon Automobile 2022 de Lyon (2022 Lyon Motor Show) between April 7-11, 2022 at the Eurexpo exhibition center in France. The video above showcases the Bigster from all angles, and the close-up shots give us a clear idea of what the retail unit will look like—90% of this design will be carried over to the production version.

The Dacia Bigster concept seems suitably upmarket, which would be expected from the production version as well. The flush door handles, triangular LED taillamps, and bold creases on the bonnet make the Bigster look sporty and rugged in equal measure.

TopElectricSUV says

The Bigster will be a low-cost alternative to compact SUVs like the VW Tiguan, Nissan Qashqai, and Toyota RAV4. The no-frills model is sticking to the basics, in a bid to offer excellent value for money. The vehicle has the potential to be one of Europe’s best-selling SUVs, and it could be among Europe’s cheapest hybrid and plug-in hybrid models by mid-decade.

Dacia Bigster FAQs

What is the Dacia Bigster release date?

The Dacia Bigster hybrid, riding on the CMF-B platform, should be available by early 2025.

Which SUVs would rival the Dacia Bigster hybrid?

The bargain-price Bigster would target C-segment SUVs including the Nissan Qashqai & VW Tiguan.

What is the expected Dacia Bigster price?

Dacia says the Bigster’s price will be similar to a lower-segment model. Expect the decently spec’d Hybrid variant at well below EUR 30,000.

Featured image: Renault